Title: Red and White
Summary: Muggles can use magic, too. And they can be just as destructive as the Death Eaters.
Rating: PG-13. Nothing graphic, but some hints of gore.
Disclaimer: All Harry Potter characters herein are the property of J.K. Rowling and Bloomsbury/Scholastic. No copyright infringement is intended.
Warning(s): Hints of gore.
Epilogue compliant? This is completely AU, baby.
Word Count: ~3600
Author's Notes: red_rahl, you mentioned that you like Harry and Draco working well as a team and investigations into interesting and unique aspects of the wizarding world. I hope that this fits the bill!
The magically enhanced voice of Kingsley Shacklebolt echoed through the corridors of the Auror Department followed only seconds later by a carefully rolled up parchment that zoomed into the Office of Abnormal and Alarming Developments in order to crash land on the desk of one Harry Potter, scattering the assortment of quills and half-finished reports that had taken up residence there. The desk's owner sighed and began to set things to rights, sending the offending message to his partner with a flick of his wand.
Draco Malfoy unrolled the parchment with exaggerated ceremony and began to read over the contents.
"Village in northern Scotland… close to the lands of one Lord Malthus Grundal… they're troubled because apparently young girls have been vanishing from the village…"
"Is this Grundal under suspicion for using the Dark Arts?" The name was unfamiliar, and he'd have noticed if it had been on one of the lists of families with Death Eater ties.
"He's a Muggle, actually."
"A Muggle?" Harry's eyebrows rose. "With a name like that?"
Draco's lips quirked upward. "It's a very old, very eccentric family with a history of experimenting in the magical arts. Not exactly your typical Muggles."
"Ah." Given that Harry's experience of living with Muggles had given him a narrow perspective, to say the least, it had been something of a surprise to learn that Mugles could, in fact, use magic. It wasn't innate magic, like with witches and wizards, but with practice and patience they could learn to harness certain channels of natural magic. It was nothing as spectacular as transfiguration or charms, of course, but some basic potions and fortunetelling was within the realm of possibility. Most of the time anything they could achieve wasn't capable of causing any serious harm, but once in a while someone would come along with just enough magical aptitude to be a cause for concern and catch the eye of the Ministry.
"So he's one to watch?"
"Seems like it." Draco rolled the parchment back up and lounged back in his chair, tilting his head inquisitively.
"Is it a go?"
Harry grinned at him. "Anything to get out of the office, right?"
Truth be told, things had been rather…dull in the ten years following the Second War's conclusion. To go from a state of constant tension and excitement to long stretches of boredom punctuated by the occasional ferreting out of a Dark Wizard was something of an anticlimax. The truth of the matter was that Harry thrived on action, and while peace was all very well and good, it just wasn't as fulfilling as he'd thought it would be. As a result he jumped on any cases that offered some chance of adventure, and even a bit of danger.
He knew that Draco was of a similar mindset, and although the two of them had had a rather rough start as partners, once they realized how much they actually had in common they had become a formidable team within the Auror Department. After a while they started going to the Leaky Cauldron after work for a drink or two. And then, approximately three years after the start of the professional partnership, they had partaken of maybe one too many Flaming Margaritas and woken up the next morning tangled up together in Draco's expensive silk sheets. They hadn't spoken for a week, then had a spectacular fight with similar results. After that, they gave in to fate, and were much happier for it.
The blonde scratched a response to the memo and sent it zooming back through the corridors with a flick of his wand, then gave Harry one of those lazy smiles that never failed to make his stomach do flip flops.
"If nothing else we get a trip to Scotland out of it. I can think of some things we can do during those cold, gray Scottish winter days, can't you?"
"Maybe a few things, yes."
Harry pulled out a fresh sheet of parchment and began scrawling down a list of everything they'd need.
"We're both in agreement that strawberries and whipped cream are a necessity?"
Morgan's Loch was, Harry thought, easily one of the most beautiful places he had ever seen. It was nestled deep in the Scottish highlands, a tiny village that looked as though it hadn't changed since the Middle Ages. If you looked closely you could see that modern society had ventured here as it had everywhere – the power lines running between old gable roofs, and satellite dishes tucked on balconies – but the sight of cobbled streets lined with picturesque old homes was undeniably charming. Harry was even more delighted to find that their hotel had once been a monastery and that their room looked out on the cloister garden.
"We should come here sometime on holiday. You know, when we don't have a case to worry about."
"I agree completely, but unfortunately we need to take care of a certain mad Muggle first."
Draco had unpacked their case file and was flipping through the sheets of parchment idly. Harry flopped down on the bed extended his hand.
"Let's have a look."
Draco handed the file over and Harry scanned Shacklebolt's bold handwriting. "We're posing as members of a historical society?"
"It seems reasonable enough. They'd be interested in acquiring any old letters or diaries a blue-blooded aristocrat might be willing to donate. Remember Dean's cover in the Engelman case?"
Harry grimaced. The memory of Dean Thomas screaming at Shacklebolt in protest over having to pose as a male escort for a fat, balding businessman was not a pleasant one. Pretending to be members of a historical society might not be particularly glamorous, but there were worse scenarios. Much worse.
Draco flicked his wand at their suitcases and their clothes immediately arranged themselves into a series of possible outfits. The blonde regarded them critically.
"We're having dinner at his manor tomorrow night… So we'll want to look conservative and proper, but it never hurts to show a little style…"
Harry grinned. This was the Malfoy heir speaking. In spite of all he had done since the War -- choosing to join the Aurors instead of a more conventional (and what his parents would no doubt consider appropriate) branch of the Ministry, living in a London flat (with Harry Potter, of all people) instead of on the family property, and preferring to live on his salary instead of the family fortune -- Draco still came from money, and knew how to use it to his advantage. It always amused Harry just a little bit to see his lover worry over which clothes would make what sort of impression, or if a visitor merited the elf-made champagne or not.
"I'll leave that decision to you."
"Naturally. I'm the one with taste and breeding, remember."
"I always do."
Their contact within the village, a Squib by the name of James McDonald, had given them all of the necessary information about the eccentric and possibly deranged lord of the manor the afternoon before their dinner engagement. He had been gruff and to the point, clearly not comfortable with small talk and not bothering to mince words.
"Problem with lasses disappearing, you see," said James as he poured them each a cup of strong tea. "Or rather, they go to the manor and something always seems to befall them there. They never come back."
"And so why do they keep going?" asked Draco. "If they never come back, surely people would catch on eventually?"
Harry kicked him under the table. Draco glanced at him and raised his eyebrows ever so slightly in a way that said clearly, It is my civic duty to point out the stupidity of the common folk. Harry rolled his eyes.
Fortunately James seemed to have missed Draco's condescending tone. "The Muggles never remember, you see. It's why we think he must be using some kind of enchantment. He comes down to the village looking all respectable like, and goes courting the prettiest girl we've got. Next thing is that they're engaged, and she's off to the manor. Then two, three years later we hear that the Lady's gotten ill and died, and he's back for a new one. No one sees anything strange about it, and when I try to tell them they just get upset at me for trying to blacken the Lord's name." He scowled.
"He's got to be using the Dark Arts, all right."
"I take it that he must have the Manor itself under some sort of glamour as well."
McDonald nodded. "Has a grand open house every year around Christmas time, and all the Muggles go. Think it's so generous of him. Never seem to notice anything peculiar, even though I get chills down me spine every time I get within three kilometers of the place."
Harry nodded politely and took notes. Draco looked bored. McDonald cleared his throat.
"I know you're a couple of Aurors, and you," he nodded at Harry, "are a regular hero and all, but be careful. They always get you when you're cocky."
Draco sniggered into his tea cup, and Harry did his best to look dignified.
The next evening found them standing in the entrance hall of Grundal Manor dressed simply but elegantly in dark tailored slacks and cashmere sweaters, smiling politely at their host while he shook their hands and offered soft words of welcome.
Harry decided that there was really nothing about Malthus Grundal to single him out as a threat (his ridiculous name aside). He certainly looked every inch the proper country nobleman – his dark hair and beard were neatly trimmed, his clothes perfectly tailored and pressed, his manner polite without being overly effusive. His home was impeccably clean and tastefully decorated, and Harry noticed Draco eyeing the dining room furnishings with an appreciative eye.
But appearances were deceiving, of course. Harry hadn't thought that Professor Quirrell would be in league with Lord Voldemort. Or that beneath Draco Malfoy's arrogant, spoiled eleven-year-old self was a brave, confident, witty man that he would one day come to love.
"My family has lived on this land for five centuries now. The original manor house was nearly completely destroyed by fire in the 1730's; most of what you see dates from the reconstruction."
Malthus seated himself at the head of the imposing oak dinner table, and Harry and Draco followed suit. Silent servants stepped forward to pour dark burgundy wine into their glasses before melting back into the shadows, and Harry felt a pang of unease. If Malthus was a Muggle they couldn't be under the Imperius Curse, but maybe he was dosing them with some kind of potion to make them oblivious to anything strange going on in the house…?
"We're very interested in the possibility of examining your library, if you would be so kind." Draco's tone was the perfect mixture of politeness and flattery, just right for an enthusiastic history buff. "Your collection must be extraordinary."
Grundal took a sip of his wine. "It is very extensive, yes. But my schedule is rather busy at the moment and I'm not sure when I might be able to show it to you…"
It was a delicate moment. Harry leaned back slightly and said, "We wouldn't want to inconvenience you, of course." He glanced at Draco. "Perhaps if we came at another time? We could take the train back to London tomorrow…"
Grundal's forehead creased in a frown. "But I would be a terrible host if I were to send you on such a long trip without giving you at least some justification for the journey." He paused as the servers brought in plates of broiled salmon and set them down before them, then continued.
"Perhaps if you were to come tomorrow… I have an engagement at eleven, but will be returning at two, and if you simply desire to use the library…"
Draco smiled. "That would be fantastic, thanks."
Grundal's fingers were turning his wine glass around and around in an agitated movement. "My butler will be in the house, should you require anything. Of course, I expect you to limit your investigations to the library."
"Naturally. We would never dream of trespassing upon your privacy." Draco took a bite of salmon and nodded approvingly.
"You must give my compliments to your cook. This fish is delicious."
Harry tossed the bag of Peruvian Instant Darkness Powder up and down in his hand glanced at Draco. "Think we'll need this?"
"Thank goodness for inbred politeness in the aristocracy, can't bear to be anything other than the perfect host… Hmmm?" Draco looked up from his monologue and frowned.
"That? Never hurts, I suppose, and it's not like it takes up much space. We can use it on the servants, if need be."
"Do you think he's dosing them with some kind of potion?"
"It's possible, but it seems unlikely that a Muggle could be working so many complex spells at once, doesn't it?"
Harry added the Darkness Powder to the small pile of equipment. "I've been thinking that maybe he's tapping into the land itself. If the family's been doing so many rituals there for so many years, maybe it's become a reservoir of sorts. Kind of like Stonehenge, or the Black Forest."
Draco raised his eyebrows. "It's possible. I didn't sense anything out of the ordinary about the Manor, though, did you?"
"No. But there has to be something he's tapping into to be enchanting the entire town into ignoring these disappearing girls…"
His voice trailed into silence. Both of them knew that one of the most powerful ways to generate a magical current, especially if you didn't have a strong aptitude for magic in the first place, was through blood sacrifice.
Harry closed his eyes and tried to will away the mental image of bodies drained of blood, white and cold and still. At least Avada Kevadra was fast, and clean, free of the butchery that accompanied Muggle murders…
…He heard that last thought and gasped audibly. Draco's hand was immediately on his arm, warm and steadying, his grey eyes locked on his face.
"Harry? Are you all right?"
"Yes." Harry closed his eyes, focused, opened them again.
They were let in promptly at eleven o'clock by Grundal's butler, a blank-faced, appropriately discreet middle-aged man who gave no clues whatsoever about what he thought of his employer. He ushered them into the library, then left them with a quiet, "Don't hesitate to call me if there's anything you need."
They waited until the doors closed with a soft click before Harry set the wards to ensure privacy. Draco was already rapidly running his wand over the old leather books while muttering rapid incantations under his breath.
"Probably all of the really interesting books have been hidden away by now."
Draco nodded. "These are look like they're all genealogical records, or perfectly dry chronicles of the local histories."
He glanced over at Harry.
"Spell the butler so we can freely roam the house?"
"My thoughts exactly."
It was easy enough to cast a sleep spell over the house, then begin to carefully go over the manor bit by bit, their wands flickering restlessly over every bit of woodwork, every painting, looking for anything out of the ordinary. It was a good two hours before Harry's wand finally jumped and shook in his hand, responding to some current of magical energy.
His partner was there within a second, the two of them staring at the intricate wrought iron grille that looked as if it were simply hiding an old radiator. Draco traced his wand lightly over the pattern of leaves and flowers, revealing a faint silver tracing.
"Easy enough to take care of that." It would be an effective way of preventing Muggles from entering undetected, but it wasn't any kind of obstacle for any wizard, much less a trained Auror. With a simple flick of a wand, the tracing faded and the grille swung open, revealing an old stone staircase. Harry entered first, with Draco resetting the grille before following him down.
The second that the pale glow of their wandlight illuminated the scene at the bottom of the stairs, Harry stopped dead, his shock so great that he didn't even hear Draco's muttered curse.
It was a scene from a slaughterhouse. Giant hooks were suspended from the ceiling, hovering over a low basin that was filled to the brim with dark liquid. Given the rusty, metallic scent permeating the air, it wasn't too hard to guess what it was. The light glinted off of sharp instruments hanging on the walls, cold and menacing and lethal, to be used for one purpose only.
"Blood sacrifice," hissed Draco, and Harry could only nod.
They moved slowly around the room, keeping away from the walls, careful not to touch anything. Harry could sense the dark energy that had accumulated over the years swirling around them, thick and choking. He gritted his teeth and forced himself to focus, to keep looking for any runes, any markings that might explain why.
"Are you finding anything?"
"No." Draco's voice was tight. "But it's been happening for a long time. There's a very deep reservoir of power here, that explains why he's been able to keep deceiving the town."
Harry moved toward the center of the room, leaning over the basin. The black surface was smooth and untroubled, like a dark mirror. It seemed to pull him in, and for a second he grew dizzy and stumbled, pitching forward onto his knees. Draco was at his side in a flash, grabbing his arm and pulling him backward.
"I'm fine." Harry sat up and wiped his palms on his trousers, then frowned. His fingers were stained a dark red, almost black in the pale wandlight, and no matter how much he wiped them they wouldn't come clean.
"Draco, look at this. The blood won't come off."
Draco grabbed Harry's hand; muttered a quick spell. For a second the marks seemed to blur and fade, but then they were as visible as ever. The blonde hissed in consternation.
"Accumulated magic. All of the rituals that have been done in this place; it's given it a remarkable potency…"
"That's nice," said Harry tightly, "but if we don't find a way to conceal it it's going to be pretty obvious what we've been doing."
"Why couldn't you have been more careful?" snapped Draco, but he continued to try spells. None of them worked.
"Let's get out of here. Now."
They ran quickly up the stairs, pausing to reset the barrier, and had just reached the front hall when the door swung open and Grundal appeared. Everyone froze, staring at each other. Grundal's eyes fell on Harry's bloodstained hand, and his face contorted with rage. But the two Aurors were already in motion; Draco tossing the Peruvian Darkness Powder into the air while Harry sprang forward, his eyes locked on Grundal's position. Before Grundal even had a chance to move, Harry's hand was closed around his arm in a death grip as the world went dark. He felt Draco grab his wrist and the world bend and twist around him as they Apparated.
They re-emerged in the woods just outside of the village. Grundal was dazed from the transfer, and Draco wasted no time in casting a binding spell on him, heavy ropes streaming from his wand to wrap tightly around the prisoner. Harry knelt before him and slapped his face, forcing him back to alertness, his green eyes dark with anger.
"Can you hear me?"
Grundal's eyes focused on the two wizards and he laughed mirthlessly.
"Upset that a mere mortal is meddling with magic, eh?"
"Upset that you've been killing innocent people is more like it. Magic has nothing to do with it."
"And so now you're going to kill me yourself, is that it?"
"Why are you doing this?" asked Draco softly, and Harry glanced back at him, wondering what his partner felt at this moment, looking at someone who was not so different from what Voldemort might have made him into.
Grundal began to giggle, high-pitched and irritating. "To live forever, of course. The blood of virgins has the ability to give strength and youth to someone who bathes in it. My family has known this for centuries, and we have all been…" he licked his lips and Harry shuddered in disgust at the sight, "…long-lived."
Harry felt sick. "Always wanting to live forever," he growled, and turned to Draco.
"Let's just kill him here. He doesn't deserve to live."
Draco shook his head and stepped forward, cupping Harry's face in his hands and forcing him to meet his gaze. "No. We have to take him back to the Ministry, let him have his trial."
Harry closed his eyes. "He's nothing but a killer, someone who murders the innocent for the sake of immortality. Scum like that don't deserve to live."
"No, they don't," said Draco softly. "But we bring them to justice, not just strike them down in the heat of the moment."
Harry took a deep breath, nodded shortly, then walked off into the trees. Draco stood before Malthus Grundal and began to speak.
"Malthus Grundal, you are summoned to trial at the Ministry of Magic…"
Two weeks later Harry was curled up on the comfortable window seat of their London flat watching snow fall over the city, a mug of hot chocolate cupped in his hands, listening to Draco moving in the kitchen. The blonde came out with a platter of Christmas cookies and stood beside Harry, watching people rush in and out of the stores across the way with their arms laden with shopping bags. It was a perfectly ordinary, peaceful scene; people buying Christmas presents, wanting to enjoy the optimism and excitement in the air.
"He was convicted, you know. He'll never harm anyone again, ever."
"I know. That doesn't mean I don't still wish I'd killed him."
Draco was silent for a long time. When he spoke again, his voice was very soft.
"But you also know that you wouldn't have, really. Because the point of killing Voldemort was to build a new world based on justice, not blind fear. We're Aurors, not vigilantes – and that's what you want."
"I know." Harry smiled, a bit sadly. "But human nature isn't always so high-minded."
"True. But we can overcome it if we try." Draco pushed the plate toward Harry.
"Right now, just have a cookie. It's the Christmas season. All you have to do is enjoy it."
Harry reached out and twined his fingers with Draco's, felt the bond of love and friendship and respect between them, and watched the snow fall.
It was more than enough to make the coldness go away.